Toyota India Etios models preview

Toyota’s brand image as the number one in reliability may have been eroded big time with the recalls regarding the sudden acceleration reports, world-wide. However in India, the case has been so very different. People still perceive quality with Toyota. This has boosted the manufacturer’s ego and they are planning to launch a slew of automobiles in India within the next 2 years. Of prime importance is the fact, that they would officially bring in the full Lexus as well as their Daihatsu sourced small cars.

Of prime importance would be the small cars for which the demand is very high in India. They would be built on an all new platform for India, however these platforms as well as cars are been sold elsewhere in the middle east as well as North America under different names.

Toyota is currently the world’s largest manufacturer however in India, the scene is far from true. Toyota sell only premium cars and hence to gain a good market share of the booming Indian market, Toyota have taken a plunge into the small car market. From the look of the cars at the Delhi Auto Expo 2010, it was evident that Toyota have already won half the battle.

Looks

Both the cars bring a welcome refreshment to their segments as far as looks are concerned. The front end looks imposing yet  has the subtle Toyota corporate image. This is evident from the two tiered chrome grill. The headlamps are of the pear shape and feature multi reflector lights. They also incorporate the same headlamp assembly as the new Corolla Altis, which means they would have legal HID kits. The air dams are a big deal by Indian cars standards. As opposed to the segment norm of having fog lamps fitted into the air dams, the Etios differs by having them on the front bumper. There is also a prominent front spoiler which gives it the look of a tuned Japanese car. Unfortunately the sedan doesn’t feature the spoiler but has the same looks of the hatchback viewed from the front. The bonnet is also a long affair in both the sedan and hatchback in India.

The sedan features side indicators embedded into them whereas the hatch back makes do without them. The wheels were the 15 inch types on both the body types. A flowing crease runs from wheel to wheel. The roof of the hatchback blends smoothly into the Hyundai I10-like rear end. The tail lamps are of the elongated types. The less said the better about the rear end of the sedan though. It looks like the cross of the Indigo Manza and that of the Renault Logan. The tail lamp structure for both the sedan and hatchback are different. Both the cars have a thick strip of chrome at the rear. A rear roof-line spoiler on the hatch back makes it one of the best looking rear for an Indian car. The tail pipes are conspicuous by their absence in both though.

The alloys on both the cars are different. The one on the Toyota India Etios sedan were of the subtle 6 spoke alloys, first seen on the first generation Corolla whereas the ones on the 5 door variant looked jazzy.

Overall, both the hatchback and sedan, from a distance, look like the Volkswagen Polo and Vento respectively.

Interiors

The interiors of both are as different chalk and cheese. For the hatchback, the steering wheel is a two tone affair, one sporting red on the sides and ivory on the straights. It also features audio controls on one side. The upper side of the dash is black and the lower end is ivory. The music system looks space age and probably has navigation controls as well. The instrument cluster is centrally placed and has a Yamaha FZ-like instrument cluster. Though not totally digital, it has that look for sure. The ac vents are of the circular type and one which is adept at directing air flow towards rear passengers as well.

The Toyota India Etios sedan has a more conservative cabin. It looks sort of built to a price thing and the hatchback’s high quality interiors are totally absent in the sedan. The sedan like the outside, also on the inside looks like the Mahindra-Renault Logan, bare basic. It is even devoid of steering audio controls.

Whichever body style you choose, the Toyota wouldn’t disappoint you with its interior space. The sedan has a humongous boot pegged at 450 liters and the hatchback at an impressive 370 liters.

The flat floor at the rear helps in getting a 3rd passenger stuffed easier.

Handling and ride quality

Though we couldn’t take the Toyota India Etios sedan or hatchback for a spin, we can judge by the GOA chassis that both would be safe handlers as also give a good ride. The sedan with its wider foot print would shine more in the ride department than the handling part. Toyota India’s cars aren’t known for their handling but for their ride quality.

As of now, both body types would be offered with a 5 speed manual with an auto tranny on the periphery later.

The 75/65 R14 and 185/60 R15 tyre sizes are at par with the competition and give the car a planted feel.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The engine for the hatchback is a segment comparable 1.2 liters but one producing 80bhp. It is a 16 valve petrol without the VVT-I technology. Toyota has assured us that the Etios wouldn’t feel out of place without this technology as they have made internal revisions to the engine components to compensate it. The sedan boasts of a 1.5 liter petrol which churns out 102 bhp. Couple this with the 800kg for the hatchback and 920 for the sedan, it should spell some potent performance from both the engines.

The braking for both, would be discs upfront and drums at the rear. However for the higher variants, you can specify discs at the rear as well. Safety features would be at segment par, with two airbags, ABS and traction control. Toyota may offer parking aids as well on the sedan.

Fuel efficiency for the hatchback should be around 13-14 kmpl in city and 18-20 kmpl on the highway. For the sedan, it would be 11-13 in city and 16-18 on the highway. This would be at par with competition. Toyota could do well to shoe-horn the 1.4 liter diesel from its Corolla sedan into both the Etios hatchback and sedan.

Verdict

Toyota Kirloskar India has been long synonymous in India for high quality, highly engineered and good resale value cars. Their car designs may not be the best in the world but they do give you a sense of solidity like none other. The Etios hatchback and sedans are bound to change the feeling of the staid designs, the hatchback noticeably so more than the sedan. Couple that with the expected at par with competition fuel efficiency and probably a killer pricing considering the use of local components to a high level, you cannot go wrong with this sedan-hatchback twins.

Expect the hatchback to start from Rs.4,50000 to Rs.5,90000 for the top end version. The sedan should start from Rs.6,10000 to Rs.7,20000 for the higher variants.

Toyota India Etios specifications

Displacement: 1200cc 16 valve DOHC
Overall Length: 3995 mm
Rear Wiper and alloy wheels
Overall Width Length: 1695 mm
Overall Height Length: 1490 mm
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 173.00 mm
Seating Capacity: 5 persons
Front Brakes: Disc
Rear Brakes: Drum

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